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Born in the UK but now living in Australia, Paul Fox has travelled to many places throughout China. He has seen the lighter side, the darker side, both the gentle and the seedy sides. He documents his experiences and is willing to share them with anyone who wants to listen. He is not afraid to say things exactly how he sees them, and is quite happy to "name and shame" when necessary.
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Sanctity or Sanctimonious ?    

By Paul Fox
4456 Views | 25 Comments | 9/17/2015 10:58:45 AM

Is marriage necessary?

I just don’t get it. Many members on sites such as CLM are divorced and already have kids, right? So unless you plan to have more kids, then why marry? It may sound like a strange question to ask on a dating site, but consider the argument for a few moments...

Getting a divorce in countries such as Britain and Australia is a long and arduous process. Firstly you need to be officially separated for at least one year and THEN you can APPLY for a divorce - which can take up to another 12 months

It’s a long, expensive and painful process. Compare that process to China, where if both parties agree, it’s a quick and simple process taking all of 5 minutes!

In many western countries marriage has been ‘out-of-favour’ for many years. I know lots of couples who have been together for over 20 years, never married yet have grown up kids who now also have kids of their own (again, without marriage)

It’s interesting to note that many western governments actually CONSIDER 2 people ‘married’ after they have lived together for 2 years. What I mean is that IF they should split up, then they must split everything 50/50 the same as they would have to if they were ACTUALLY married. - So the marriage LAWS apply to them just the same.

So what IS marriage all about?

Is it just a piece of paper or is it something more than that?

Let’s face it, a marriage certificate is a symbol of love, but is it necessary?

Two people can commit their lives to each other without the need for a bit of paper - can’t they ?

Do we love each other with our hearts, souls and minds - or a bit of paper?

I remember many years ago, my uncle and his girlfriend went and secretly got married. They literally grabbed 2 complete strangers off the street to witness their marriage (witnesses are required by law in the UK) - what’s more, they never told anyone for several years. What’s the point? I mean if a marriage ceremony is supposed to demonstrate to family and friends that you indeed love each other so much that you are ready to commit for life, then why the secrecy?

I’ll certainly concede that if 2 people plan to have kids together then that’s a good enough reason to marry, but what if your child-bearing days are over or you simply don’t WANT to have more kids? A marriage certificate is a piece of paper that says 2 people are married - so what? Does it stop one of them cheating on the other (if they so desire)? Does it prevent either of them from doing ANYTHING that they might otherwise want to do ? - Of COURSE not!

If 2 people love each other deeply then they are likely to remain faithful and true to each other - does a marriage certificate make a scrap of difference to how people feel about each other?

We all know that China is steeped in culture and tradition and marriage is still a big part of that tradition and culture - just as it was 50 years ago in the west.

‘Sex-before-marriage’ was taboo and couples saved for years in order to marry.

But when all-said-and-done, it’s still only a piece of paper - or is it?

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#2015-09-17 10:56:17 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Paul, I honestly am not sure if you are voicing an opinion or seriously asking a question? In answer to your question, I will only say that having been in 7 live in relationships of 3 years or more, 3 of them marriages of 8 years or more, I think there is a difference between marriage and simply living together in the west.

I'm not sure it is a huge difference anymore, like it was 50 years ago, and like it still is in China, but it is a substantial enough difference, both psychological and emotional, that I think it matters.

To me the difference is that saying "let's move in together" is like deciding to save some rent or other living expenses while testing the waters.

On the other hand, saying "let's get married" is like saying I really want to spend my life with you and I'm going to try really, really hard to make it work.

We all know that divorce rates are running very high these days, and I doubt there's many serious studies on the percentages of "living together" relationships that end in a breakup, but I'd sure like a chance to bet that they are through the roof compared to the divorce rate.

I'd also like to bet that if there were studies on it, we'd find out that the living together relationships that last more than 5 years or so, usually turn into marriages. Not always, but more often than not.

Marriage still, even in these modern times, speaks of commitment. For the most part, moving in together does not.

Now having said that, I believe that every responsible couple should live together for at least a year or so before jumping into marriage.

Good question, and good blog! (y)

#2015-09-17 12:12:55 by Barry1 @Barry1


"I’ll certainly concede that if 2 people plan to have kids together then that’s a good enough reason to marry"

Marriage for the sake of children is indeed a powerful reason to do this. Exactly correct, Paul.

But what John said is also very true,

"Marriage still, even in these modern times, speaks of commitment. For the most part, moving in together does not."

Living together is fine in theory where there are no children involved. Yet as John said, there's a psychological difference, where a formal marriage exudes INCREASED COMMITMENT as compared to living together.

One extra thought I'd like to bring to the table here is age.

My personal view is that marriage may be more important for YOUNGER people for a number of reasons, not just children.

BUT as people become older and more mature - and any children involved turn into adults - then marriage is NOT so important. I feel a pair of 60 or 70 year olds don't really need to marry in order to feel absolutely committed, compared to say, if they were 30 or 40 years old.

So in a nutshell, my view is younger people ideally should marry if they love each other and wish to show the world their commitment toward each other , but for older, very mature people, the importance or need of formal marriage drops away markedly. (think)

#2015-09-17 13:58:39 by Ailleurs @Ailleurs

To me, marriage is a binding contract, both legally and emotionally. To me it is a sacred institution and not something to take lightly. Nothing seals the deal on a relationship like marriage. My parents brought me up that way. They are slightly older than the "official" start of the 'baby boomer" generation and more conservative in their family ideals. My parents have been married for 48 years. It stems a further generation as my mother's parents were married from age 20 until my grandfather passed at age 84.

It's not a religious thing in our family. My dad is Catholic and my mom protestant so my siblings and I shifted from church-to-church, denomination-to-denomination, so no church loyalty there (all that bouncing around also helped me to my decision that Christianity was all BS as I was taught several different sides to the same God and same Christ-but that's another thread). My parents even eloped, marrying at a Justice of the Peace, so religion wasn't even part of their marriage.

It's got nothing to do with kids, either. You don't marry for kids - you're not marrying the kids. Kids grow up, move on, but you still have your spouse. You shouldn't have kids with someone you wouldn't marry otherwise, but sometimes shit happens when you're young and you make bad decisions. Sometimes the person you're with turns into a psycho after a couple of years and you've already had children together. Some people get married -or stay married- just for the kid(s) and that's unfair for everyone involved. How well can you raise a child if you can't stand your spouse and you're always fighting or cheating on each other? IMO, a child should have 2 parents raising them, but not 2 bitter enemies staying together against their wills-I think that teaches kids that spousal abuse and infidelity is 'normal' and 'acceptable' in a marriage.

I was taught by my parents and grandparents the weight of marriage and the devotion required (along with the willingness to bend when necessary). I can not imagine marrying anyone that I cannot picture spending the rest of my life with and growing old together. I'm 40 now and never been married. I've never even considered it with any of my past relationships. I seem to attract the crazies here in the US. In an age of selfishness and materialism, it's hard to find someone with relationship ideals similar to mine. This is why I think finding a Chinese woman to marry is the only way to go for me.

#2015-09-17 18:21:30 by anonymous13946 @anonymous13946

I think that is just your own views, like others say, marriage is a kind of commitment to each other, for sure it is different from living together
very simple, are the words girlfriend and boyfriend the same as husband and wife? very different

#2015-09-17 18:56:37 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


Kind of both really - I AM asking a question but at the same time I am voicing an opinion. It seems that @Barry1 seems to somewhat agree with me though
I really can't see the point of marriage unless kids are required
However I totally agree with you that 2 people should live together for AT LEAST 1 year, preferably 2 years, prior to marriage

However, trying to convince a Chinese woman of this idea is never going to be easy

#2015-09-19 02:10:50 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@Ailleurs - as my marriage record suggests, I am not the same kind of person as you. I have spent my life acting impulsively in many situations that demanded patience and thought that I was not prepared to give before I acted. In some cases it worked out well, in others disaster ensued. I am trying to be less impulsive in my later years, but it remains an issue for me. I have to work at it constantly.

BUT, regarding the institution of marriage, I cannot imagine having laid out more accurately what is required in two people, for they both have to have it, in order for marriages to last 40, 50 or sometimes 60 years. Never has this been more true than today.

You wrote:

"I can not imagine marrying anyone that I cannot picture spending the rest of my life with and growing old together. I'm 40 now and never been married. I've never even considered it with any of my past relationships."

If everyone took this approach, and were capable as you have been in following up on it and being true to it, there would obviously be far fewer marriages, but those that happen would be far more likely to last until death.

Frankly, those of us incapable of acting responsibly like this in pursuit of marriage, should not be granted marriage licenses. The world would be a better place, and those impulsive idiots like myself would, in the end, be far better off for it too.

I don't think I would have been able to meet these standards until sometime in my fifties. But so what? If, when I had impulsively asked my girfriend to marry me at the age of twenty, there had been a guy at the desk where they hand out marriage licenses as if they are free popcorn saying to me "I'm sorry son, but marriage is "a sacred institution and not something to take lightly". He would have then sent me packing, and I would have saved a lot of wasted years and been a better person for it.

I really, really respect everything you've written here and admire you for seeing marriage this way and sticking to your guns. You're a better man than I was for most of my life, and maybe even than I am now.

I wish you the best of luck meeting a great match here and frankly, if you can convey those feelings to the ladies they'll be lining up to meet you. But be careful, you need to be sure that the one you marry genuinely has the same criteria and character that you have. Many Chinese women do, certainly in far higher numbers than in America.

But there are also many Chinese women who are in a rush to get married, and will trick themselves into seeing any man as someone they wish to spend their lives with, when they don't even know him well enough to make that judgment. They are not being insincere, they are simply unaware of their own motivations. That makes it harder for us to sus out, especially with the cultural and language barriers standing in the way of clear communication.

Good luck to you.

#2015-09-19 02:35:08 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@paulfox1 - "trying to convince a Chinese woman of this idea is never going to be easy"

Maybe that's because Chinese women don't feel that a man who isn't prepared to get married is truly committed to a life with them. Chinese people, being much smarter than us Westerners, see life as something in which you work hard in the early years, like til you're 50 or so, maybe older, your kids are grown up, and you've accumulated enough of your own wealth to be secure for the rest of your life. Then you can begin to relax and enjoy life. Frankly, that approach to life makes a lot more sense than does ours.

If you remember the old fable about "The Grasshopper and the Ants", we are the grasshopper and they are the ants.

Marriage is for 2 people committed to that goal and working towards it together. Living together isn't conducive to that approach. Anyone asking the very question you have asked here has already displayed that he clearly doesn't "get" the kind of commitment required to satisfy a Chinese woman's version of commitment to a life together.

No marriage = zero commitment. I can't disagree with them. Frankly, if I was a Chinese woman and had read this blog of yours, I'd be saying to myself "Wow! I am not going to plant the seeds of my dreams of a better life together in this guy's soil!"

I understand you are raising a philosophical argument here, and asking if, in today's society, is marriage even necessary. But the problem is that in today's society (at least in ours in the west) commitment to a life together is not a necessity for most people, everything is about here and now. So for those people, of course marriage has no meaning and is no addition to simply living together. Marriage is for the huge minority that don't feel that way and don't much care for today's Western society.

For the most part, those are the men who are seeking a better lifemate in China, because in Chinese society lifelong relationships are still essential, and marriage is proof of commitment to such a relationship. And those are the Western men the Chinese women are here seeking.

#2015-09-19 13:35:40 by Ailleurs @Ailleurs

@JohnAbbot - I meant no disrespect, I was just voicing my opinion based on my upbringing. I've also made some regrettable gut-reaction decisions that I'm still paying for to this day, though they did not involve a ring and an oath.

I've come across a Chinese woman's rush to marry. She was so insistent, that she sounded desperate. Are Chinese women under that much social pressure to marry?

#2015-09-19 15:23:11 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@Ailleurs - I took no offence to your comment whatsoever. Your view on marriage was admirable to me, and caused me to look at myself closely. I found myself lacking.

This is a good thing, and I thank you for it. If we can't examine ourselves and explore and understand our faults and our weaknesses we can't correct them or grow or better ourselves. You have helped me to better myself. Don't apologize for that. There is no need.

#2015-09-20 22:41:16 by anonymous13980 @anonymous13980

He and I CLM contacts in one year and four months, I was able to accommodate his character defects, we talked well, and established a deep affection. Although his economic bad, I think is not important, if we are successful, we work together, the economy will be very good.
Our contradiction Origin: important thing he has done wrong, I get angry. We chat, I simply answer, no previous passion and dedication, so for 3 consecutive days. In fact, I was waiting for him to say what went wrong, to improve his way of doing things can promote.
As a result, he ran. I've been waiting for him, Christmas, New Year's Day, Valentine's Day, are not his message, it has been a four-month period. In March, I wrote him a 8 letter sent to the clouds seemed all. Six months later, he returned to find me, just simple verbal apology, I asked him to give me a formal written statement and apologize, he did not do. So, I do not count all the consequences, say all his fault. I said: How can I trust you? I believe you can not find a little bit of reason.
Why he could not come meet? ? Now that is over, I do not regret it.
Stand the perspective of the West, to give an objective comment, thank you!

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